Who We Are

Posner Lab

Who We Are

Jonathan E. Posner, M.D.
Director, Posner Lab
Suzanne Crosby Murphy Associate Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC

Jonathan Posner, MD, received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his medical degree from the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Posner completed his training in clinical psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (NYSPI/CU) and his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). He is board certified in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry and is an Associate Professor of Clinic Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

After completing his clinical training, Dr. Posner began a research program investigating the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders affecting children. His research laboratory, by combining the use of brain imaging and clinical trials, aims to help in the development of novel and more effective treatments for childhood disorders. His laboratory has received funding from multiple sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the Edwin S. Webster Foundation, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation.

Jiook Cha, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

Dr. Cha studies the brain circuitry of maladaptive emotion and cognition across the lifespan. His goal is to develop an imaging-based assay for brain disorders that can be used in clinical settings. To this end, his current research focuses on assessing functional neuroanatomy in normal and disease states.   Dr. Cha uses interdisciplinary science, such as brain imaging (e.g. MRI), cognitive and affective neuroscience (e.g., threat-safety learning), mathematical modeling (e.g., Bayesian learning theory), high-throughput image analysis (e.g., functional and structural connectivity or connectome mapping) using parallel computing, and computational analysis (e.g., machine learning). He studied Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Korea University (Bachelor of Science), Neurobiology at Catholic University of Korea (Master of Science), and Neuroscience at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (PhD; Advisor: Dr. Lillianne Mujica-Parodi). In 2016, he completed his postdoctoral research fellowship in the Posner Lab (directed by Dr. Jonathan E. Posner) and an NIMH–supported T32 research fellowship in the Eating Disorders Program (directed by Drs. Evelyn Attia and B. Timothy Walsh). In 2016, he started training in Patient-Oriented Research via the Career Development Award (KL2) supported by NIH CTSA (Clinical Translational Science Award) and the Irving Institute at Columbia University. In the same year, Dr. Cha was appointed as Assistant Professor of Neurobiology. His research has been funded by NIMH (K01), NARSAD (Young Investigator Award), Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association (Young Investigator Award), CU-the University of Glasgow (Research Exchange Fellowship), and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Pilot MRI awards). 

Elizabeth Raffanello, M.P.H.

Elizabeth Raffanello, MPH

Lab Manager

Elizabeth received her BA in clinical psychology and community health from Tufts University. She later received an MPH from Yale University in the social and behavioral sciences. She is currently a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY. Blending her interests in neuropsychology and health psychology, Elizabeth’s dissertation is focusing on emotion regulation in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Elizabeth joined Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014 as a lab manager. She continues to help supervise psychological assessments while she completes her predoctoral internship in psychology.

David Semanek, B.A., HCISPP

David Semanek, BA, HCISPP

Research Technician

David received a BA in experimental psychology with a concentration in visual perception from Columbia University in 2005. He recently earned the HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner certification from (ISC)2. His main professional interests are MRI data acquisition and processing methods, as well as research data management and security. David came to NYSPI in 2008 and has worked on a diverse collection of MRI studies covering mood and attention disorders, autism, toxin exposure, infant and childhood development, and both prescription drugs and drugs of abuse. David’s long-term goals focus on the advancement of data-management techniques and data exchange for the field of MRI research, with an emphasis on maintaining high standards of information security and integrity.

Vanessa Bastidas

Vanessa Bastidas, BS

Research Assistant

Vanessa Bastidas graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a BS in mechanical engineering, product design. She worked in various fields integrating engineering, design, and entrepreneurship, and now her goal is to pursue medicine. Vanessa joined Dr. Posner’s lab in the fall of 2016 as a research assistant and helps coordinate MRI research studies exploring the neurodevelopment of Puerto Rican infants and children, including understanding fear generalization in adolescents with anxiety. In the summer of 2017, Vanessa completed the Columbia University Premedical Baccalaureate Program and will be applying to medical school programs.

Susie Hong, B.S.

Susie Hong, BS

Research Assistant

Susie graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with a BS in integrative neuroscience. Susie first joined NYSPI as a volunteer for Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014. Currently, Susie is responsible for coordinating Dr. Posner’s research studies, which primarily investigate the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of ADHD treatments. She is interested in studying and improving the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.

Alex Choy

Alex Choy, BS

Data Analyst

Alex Choy, BS, is a data analyst with the Posner Lab. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in biomedical engineering and is pursuing an MS in biomedical engineering at Columbia University. Alex's main interest is applying his engineering background in biomedical signal processing to further the Posner Lab's research efforts—leveraging his previous project and research experiences in signal processing, machine learning, and image analysis to help develop data-analysis schemes.

Claudia Lugo-Candelas

Claudia Lugo-Candelas, PhD

Claudia Lugo-Candelas, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in translational research training in child psychiatry. She obtained her PhD from the clinical psychology program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her earlier graduate work explored the influence of culture in parents’ emotion socialization practices. Her dissertation focused on better understanding the neural correlates of emotion processing in preschoolers with hyperactivity, as well as in typically developing populations. Dr. Lugo-Candelas is interested in better understanding, at the neural and behavioral levels, what factors (individual, familial, and cultural) contribute to emotion dysregulation and the pathways and mechanisms though which dysregulation develops into psychopathology in preschoolers. She recently completed her clinical internship at the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx.

Tamara Sussman

Tamara Sussman, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Tamara Sussman is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree, and from Stony Brook University with a PhD in clinical psychology. While at Stony Brook, she conducted research examining the impact of emotional stimuli on visual perception and associated brain activity in normal function and in anxiety. She also provided treatment for a broad range of disorders, including anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and depression. During her internship at the Rutgers University Counseling Center, she provided treatment to a diverse group of university students, and received specialized training in the treatment of trauma-related disorders.

Yun Wang, PhD

Yun Wang, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Yun Wang, PhD, joined the Posner Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow after completing her PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University. Dr. Wang's undergraduate training was in electrical engineering at Central South University in China. Dr. Wang's research interests include multimodal imaging, resting fMRI data analysis, and machine learning.